Cooling solutions

Sustainable cooling solutions in action

Icon chapter 4

Across human comfort and safety and medical and agricultural cold chains, small- to mid-size cooling businesses are working to generate technological solutions and take advantage of new business models.

Innovation and intervention not only in technologies but also in the services, policies and financial solutions are needed to support them.


As sustainable cooling solutions are piloted and demonstrated across the developing world, more data about their impacts on the local level are becoming available. Understanding these impacts is critical for governments, cities, development institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the design of policies and implementation of new initiatives dedicated to increasing access to sustainable cooling. 

Solutions in action

This chapter explores some of those solutions through case studies provided by the Ashden Foundation, the Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy,  the FAO, the Million Cool Roofs Challenge, and the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) Youth Summit. The examples are driven by data to show the impact that sustainable solutions have on communities and people.

Latin America: Passive technology and business model innovation creating a healthier, more productive city in Medellín

Rwanda: The growing market potential of solar cold storage for horticulture products

Sub-Saharan Africa: Youth-led solutions for vaccine and agricultural cold chain challenges

Bangladesh and Indonesia: The power of passive solutions

Take action with the This Is Cool campaign

Our This Is Cool campaign aims to bring greater awareness of the solutions and to show what can be done across the world to make sustainable cooling for all a reality. Find out more

Scaling up access to cooling solutions

A major barrier to scale small- to mid-size cooling businesses is access to financing due to the relatively small size of the projects. Dedicated funding structures that enable the bundling of such projects could relieve companies from their cash constraints and enable them to implement business models that require more patience for the return on investment. In addition, when exploring innovative business models, such cooling businesses are exposed to new risks such as payment delays and defaults. These risks may limit the users that can benefit from sustainable cooling solutions; payment guarantees could significantly support cooling providers to increase the size of their portfolios and hence diversify their risk. 

Scaling up the Cooling as a Service (CaaS) business model, for example, will require solution providers to shift their organizational culture, moving away from selling assets and starting to focus on selling services. Unlocking commercial debt is key to scale up the adoption of CaaS, as was the case with power purchase agreements and solar photovoltaics.

For agricultural cold chains, training, capacity building and data availability remain key barriers to scale, and it is this that the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-chain (ACES) aims to address in Sub-Saharan Africa. The centre is designed to respond to these specific needs with training on how to make the right technology and business model choices for different markets and cooling needs. 

In the public sector, increasing easy-to-access funding is crucial to create enabling environments for sustainable cooling solutions across a variety of sectors. Further support of technology innovation and scaling is also essential for cooling technology development, as through the Global Cooling Prize and the Chill Challenge.

Passive cooling solutions also require wider demonstration in developing economies that can be facilitated through subsidies, grants and other incentives, as has been achieved with the Million Cool Roofs Challenge and the Fair Cooling Fund. Public policy also remains a key enabler, with important steps including the inclusion and promotion of passive cooling solutions as well as nature-based solutions as seen in Medellín Colombia, in municipal planning processes and building codes. 


Sustainable cooling solutions directory and tool